Friday, October 7, 2011

The Value of Receiving

Most of us have been taught that it is better to give than to receive. Actually, this is not true. The fact is that giving and receiving are of equal value and both are important in developing balanced relationships. Consider what happens when we give but do not allow ourselves to receive. There is imbalance.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross, the renowned psychiatrist, who championed dying patients in allowing them to respond to their impending demise, spoke of her mother who was a very kind and generous person. Her mother gave profusely, but never allowed anyone to give to her. Kubler-Ross said that when her mother was hospitalized as a result of a stroke, she was in the awkward position of having to receive and all the gifts that she had not allowed to be given her in her life flowed in. The fact is that she not only received them but could not deny them because of her infirmity.

I thought it was interesting that Dr. Kubler-Ross ended her life in a similar fashion. She spoke of being enraged by the confines of a body which has lost its ability to be active. Essentially, she was stuck in a bed and receiving 24/7 care from loving people. She also was not a gracious receiver. So, the law, not allowing imbalance, placed both in a position to have to receive. Isn’t it interesting how well we perceive others and how often what we see is really ourselves?

Consider the enjoyment of giving. Oprah Winfrey says she really gets excited when she is fulfilling a person’s dream or giving out cars or when she has her “favorite things” show (which is all about abundant giving to her audience members. She can’t even sleep she is so elated and charged. Yet, she too, says that receiving is not nearly so inspiring.

I think this is true of many because we forget to be excited for the one who give to us. I am excited because I know we all need to give and we all need to receive. The Law itself is exciting and inspiring.

There is definite joy is giving to others and we must learn how to experience the same joy in receiving. Wouldn’t the world be completely off balance if there were only givers and not receivers? Who exactly would we be giving to?
Years ago, a friend informed me that I was not a good receiver. I was astonished to learn that. So, I started a quest to become good at receiving. My commitment to myself was that I would receive all gifts offered to me. That was the beginning of an adventure and an awakening. Whatever people offered, I said “yes, thank you. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.” And, I did! Thus, the results: I did not buy a meal for a week. I started noticing how often people wanted to buy my food. “Yes, thank you!” There were abundant gifts of all kinds – students, friends, business cohorts offered to take care of my plants while I was out of town, drive me to the airport, do my ironing, vacations in exclusive resorts, flowers – the list was endless.

I also recognized the joy it gave them to offer these things or services to me. I understood how selfish it was to not receive; how selfish it was to only give and deny people the opportunity to give to me for all that I gave to them; how selfish my family had become by me being stuck on giving to them and not teaching then the beauty of giving and how totally imbalanced my life had become by not receiving.

When I say this “lesson” changed my life – it has. I hope this lesson will change your life as well. To start, make a commitment to yourself to be just as good and gracious receiver as you are a giver. We all like to “help” others, yet we need help too. There are many people poised to provide that service but they can’t offer until you allow it. I wish you joy and fun in learning to live harmoniously with this Law of the Universe.

Oh yes one more thing… be sure and be generous with yourself as well.